Neotibicen Canicularis


13882490_10157230534055641_4167006057593789379_n

The genus Neotibicen comprises large-bodied Cicadidae appearing in late summer or autumn in North America. Many colloquial names exist for Neotibicen, including locust, and dog-day cicada. Until recently, these species were all in the genus Tibicen, which was redefined so as to include only a few European species, while species from the Western US and Mexico are now placed in a separate genus, Hadoa.

Neotibicen species are the most common cicada in the Eastern United States. Unlike periodical cicadas, whose swarms occur at 13- or 17-year intervals, Neotibicen species can be seen every year, hence their nickname “annual cicadas”. The life-cycle of an individual, however, is more than a year. Nymphs spend two or three years feeding on tree roots before they emerge. Their annual reappearance is due to overlapping generations.

Neotibicen cicadas are 1–2 inches (25–51 mm) long, with characteristic green, brown, and black markings on the top of the thorax, and tented, membranous wings extending past the abdomen. The fore pair are about twice the length of the hind pair. Adults feed using their beak to tap into the xylem of plants; nymphs feed from the xylem of roots.

Communication

Like other members of the subfamily Cicadinae, Neotibicen species have loud, complex songs, even (in many cases) distinct song phrases.

Males produce loud calls in the afternoon or evening (depending on the species) to attract females. These sounds, distinctive for each species, are produced by organs below the abdomen’s base. These calls range from a loud buzz to a long rattling sound.

Many animals feed on cicadas, which usually occurs during the final days when they become easy prey near the ground. One of the more notable predators is the cicada killer. This is a large wasp that catches the dog-day cicada. After catching and stinging the insect to paralyze it, the cicada killer carries it back to its hole and drags it underground to a chamber where it lays its eggs in the paralyzed cicada. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae feed on the paralyzed, but still living, cicada.

Advertisements

Bobbit Worm


d1ed3591c817de3f842ff54b42cd6cfd

Eunice aphroditois (colloquially known as the Bobbit(t) worm), is an aquatic predatory polychaete worm dwelling at the ocean floor. This organism buries its long body into an ocean bed composed of gravel, mud, or corals, where it waits patiently for a stimulus to one of its five antennae, attacking when it senses prey. Armed with sharp teeth, it is known to attack with such speeds, its prey is sometimes sliced in half. Although the worm hunts for food, it is omnivorous.

According to Luis F. Carrera-Parra and Sergio I. Salazar-Vallejo, ecologists specializing in annelid polychaetes at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Campeche, Mexico, eunicids inject “…[a] narcotizing or killing toxin in their prey animal, such that it can be safely ingested — especially if they are larger than the worm — and then digested through the gut”. They further state, unlike a different family of worms, the fireworms (Amphinomidae), which have harpoon-shaped chaetae (bristles) that release a toxin that can cause severe skin irritation, E. aphroditois specimens “do not have abundant chaetae and their chaetae are not used for defensive purposes, but for improving traction for crawling over the sediment or inside their galleries or tubes”.

Little is known about the sexual habits and lifespan of this worm, but researchers hypothesize that sexual reproduction occurs at an early stage, maybe even when the worm is about 100 mm (3.9 in) in length; this is very early, considering these worms can grow to sizes of nearly 3 m (9.8 ft) in some cases (although most observations point to a much lower average length of 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and an average of 25 mm (0.98 in) in diameter). A long lifespan may very well explain the size of these creatures.

  1. aphroditois is found in warmer oceans around the world, including the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic.

In aquaria

Bobbit worms may be accidentally introduced into artificial environments. In March 2009, the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall, discovered a Bobbit worm in one of their tanks. The workers had seen the devastation caused by the worm, such as fish being injured or disappearing and coral being sliced in half, but did not find it until they started taking the display apart in the tank. The worm was nicknamed “Barry”.

Another Bobbit worm, three and a half feet long and a few inches thick, was found October 7, 2013 in Maidenhead Aquatics in Woking, Surrey.

Name

The name “Bobbit worm” was coined in the 1996 book Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific, in reference to Lorena Bobbit, who was then very much in the public consciousness. The name is inspired only by the scissorlike jaws of the worm; the common supposition that female eunicids cut off the males’ penises is false. In fact, the worms lack penises entirely as they are broadcast spawners.

Robber Flies


39650647.Robberfly

The robber flies are an abundant and diverse family (Asilidae) known for their predatory behavior. Asilidae diversity can be attributed to their broad distribution, as most species tend to occupy a selective niche. As their common name implies, robber flies have voracious appetites and feed on a vast array of other arthropods, which may help to maintain a healthy balance between insect populations in various habitats (Joern and Rudd 1982, Shurovnekov 1962). Asilidae adults attack wasps, bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, other flies, and some spiders. Robber flies are particularly abundant in arid and sunny habitats, which are optimal conditions in which to observe their many morphs and behaviors.

Distribution

The Asilidae enjoy a worldwide distribution, with some groups limited to certain regions (Hull 1962). For instance, the genera Megapodinae are unique to the Neotropical region. Large island chains tend to encompass abundant asilid faunas, particularly those south of Asia. By contrast, smaller islands such as the Hawaiian chain have no indigeous or introduced species (Hull 1962). The majority of robber fly species are found in dry, sandy conditions, as confirmed by the diversity of species found in such locales. Some species are well adapted to desert climates, where they are known to thermoregulate in response to temperature variations throughout the day (O’Neill et al. 1988, Morgan and Shelly 1988, O’Neill and Kemp 1990). Few species occur in woodland areas, and those that do tend to aggregate along the edges, near grasslands. In Florida, all four subfamilies of Asilidae (Asilinae, Dasypogoninae, Laphriinae, and Leptogastrinae) are present,. Within these subfamilies, the following genera are known to exist in Florida:

Description

Asilidae are a family of true flies belonging to the superfamily Asiloidea within the suborder Brachycera. To date, there are approximately 7,003 described species of Asilidae distributed throughout the world (Geller-Grimm 2008). There are nearly 1,000 North American species of robber flies, with more than 100 species occurring in Florida. Loew was perhaps the most influential dipterist to contribute information to the study of robber flies, describing several species and more than 80 genera. Other mid-nineteenth century contributors include Macquart, Walker, Rondani, and Bigot. Later, dipterists in the 1900’s became specialists of robber flies in particular locales, most notably Curran and Bromley in North America.

All robber flies have a characteristic divot on top of the head, which is located between their especially prominent compound eyes. In general, adult Asilidae have an elongate body with a tapered abdomen. However, some species are stout and hairy, mimicking bumble bees, and still others may be slender and have a damsel fly appearance. Adults range in size from small (3 mm) to very large (over 50 mm), averaging 9 to 15 mm in length (Wood 1981). Robber flies have long, strong legs that are bristled to aid in prey capture. Sexual dimorphisms are not extreme, although females tend to have slightly broader abdomens than males. Most robber flies have a brown, gray, or black coloration.

Biology

Female Asilidae deposit whitish-colored eggs on low-lying plants and grasses, or in crevices within soil, bark, or wood. Egg-laying habits depend on the species and their specific habitat; most species lay their eggs in masses, which are then covered with a chalky protective coating. Robber fly larvae live in the soil or in various other decaying organic materials that occur in their environment. Larvae are also predatory, feeding on eggs, larvae, or other soft-bodied insects. Robber flies overwinter as larvae and pupate in the soil. Pupae migrate to the soil surface and emerge as adults, often leaving behind their pupal casing. Complete development ranges from one to three years, depending on species and environmental conditions. Theodor (1980) proposed that larval growth is accelerated in warmer regions and that many Asilidae species live no longer than one year.

Behavior

Robber flies are opportunistic predators, their diets often reflecting prey availability in a particular habitat. Shelly (1986) reported that of the nine Neotropical Asilidae species he studied, diet constituents were more than 85% composed of insects from the orders Diptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Homoptera, and Lepidoptera. Furthermore, larger species tended to consume a greater diversity of prey taxa. Robber flies generally establish a perching zone in which to locate potential prey. Perching height varies by species, but generally occurs in open, sunny locations. Asilidae seize their prey in flight and inject their victims with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes. This injection, inflicted by their modified mouthparts (hypotharynx), rapidly immobilizes prey and digests bodily contents. The robber fly soon has access to a liquid meal, which is generally consumed upon returning to a perched position.

Robber flies exhibit minimal courtship behavior. Instead, the male pounces on the female much like an act of prey acquisition. Copulation is accomplished in a tail-to-tail fashion with the male and female genetalia interlocked. Flight is not completely inhibited during mating.

Maggot


Maggot is the common name of the soft-bodied, legless, worm-like larva of insects of the order Diptera, typically with a reduced head, which may be retracted into the body. The term often is associated with larvae that live on decaying flesh or tissue debris of animals and plants, although there are some species that consume healthy animal tissue and many forms that consume living plant matter.

Many maggots have a reputation as plant pests, such as the apple maggot (Rhagoletis pomonella), the cabbage maggot (Delia radicum), the larvae form of the common crane fly (Tipula sp.), and other root maggots, midge maggots, and leaf miners. Some also are parasites of mammals, eating live flesh or burrowing under the skin to cause lesions or damage to organs. Humans and domestic animals can be infected and thus measures to prevent infestation are often recommended, such as proper garbage disposal.

However, maggots also provide many important functions in the ecosystem and for humans. Ecologically, they are important for the decomposition of dead tissues and in retaining nutrients, are vital to food chains, and some, such as the hover fly (Syrphus ribesii) consumes plant pests, such as aphids. Some maggots have commercial use, being sold as bait for fishing or food for pets. Some even have application in forensic science for determining time of death. Furthermore, certain species, particularly blowflies, have important medical applications, being used historically and currently for stimulating proper healing of wounds.

Overview and description

A true fly is any species of insect of the order Diptera. True flies undergo a complete metamorphosis, or complex metamorphosis, in which there are four distinct stages: Egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The larval phase of development is commonly known as a maggot. Depending on the species, there are generally 3 to 8 larval stages. Many species have larva in which the head is reduced and retracted into the body, with the much reduced head and mouthparts at the pointed end (Kendall 2007).

In the larval stage, the legless maggot generally begins to feed on whatever the egg was laid on, such as decomposing flesh. The maggot gorges itself with food until it is ready to enter the pupal stage, at which point the maggot travels away from the food source to an appropriate, generally moist spot. During the pupal stage, it metamorphosizes into an adult. Maggots tend to be voracious feeders.

Importance of maggots

Ecological, commercial, and forensic

Ecological functions. Maggots are important as decomposers, helping to break down decaying tissues and retaining the nutrients, rather than being lost. The flesh of dead animals are quickly reduced by maggots. Furthermore, maggots are important in food chains, being consumed by a wide variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. The hover fly (Syrphus ribesii), which is an important pollinator in the adult stage, also has a helpful larval stage, as the maggots are active predators of aphids and other plant-sucking insects and thus are natural enemies of plant pests (Kendall 2007).

Commercial functions. Maggots are bred commercially, as a popular bait in fishing, and a food for carnivorous pets such as reptiles or birds. Maggots have been used in food production, particularly cheese.

Forensic science. Some types of maggots found on corpses can be of great use to forensic scientists. By their stage of development (instar), these maggots can be used to give an indication of the time elapsed since death, as well as the place the organism died.

Maggot therapy

Certain live maggots have been employed since antiquity as an economical, safe and effective type of wound debridement (cleaning). Long ago, including during the U.S. Civil War and World War I, some doctors noticed soldiers that had maggots on their wounds healed quicker than those without maggots. Maggot Therapy (also known as Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT), larval therapy, larva therapy, or larvae therapy) is the intentional introduction of live, disinfected maggots or fly larvae into non-healing skin or soft tissue wounds of a human or other animal. This practice was widely used before the discovery of antibiotics, as it serves to clean the dead tissue within a wound in order to promote healing. While maggot therapy declined with the advent of antibiotics and surgical techniques, there has been renewed interest in recent years.

Today, in controlled and sterile settings by licensed medical practitioners, maggot therapy introduces live, disinfected maggots into non-healing skin or soft wounds of a human or other animal. The maggots consume the dead tissue and skin, leaving the live tissue alone, while excreting powerful antibiotics to which bacteria have not yet developed tolerance, thus killing the bacteria or inhibiting their growth. As of 2008, maggot therapy was being used in around 1000 medical centers in Europe and over 300 medical centers in the United States (Ngan 2008).

Only a few species of fly larvae are suitable for such use in maggot therapy, notably blowflies (Handwerk 2003). Maggots of the blowfly have been used to treat injuries like pressure ulcers (bed sores), stab wounds, leg and foot ulcers, and post-surgical wounds that are not healing properly (Willis 2001).

Deleterious actions

Diverse maggots cause damage in agricultural crop production, including root maggots in rapeseed and midge maggots in wheat. Some maggots are leaf miners. The apple maggot (Rhagoletis pomonella), also known as railroad worm, is a pest of several fruits, mainly apples. The cabbage maggot (Delia radicum), also known as the root maggot, is a known pest to crops as well. The white eggs, which are about one millimeter in diameter, hatch into while maggots after about six days and the larvae feed for about three weeks on the roots and stems of the cabbage plants. The common crane fly (Tipula sp.) has larvae known as “leatherjackets” that can be a serious threat to farm and garden crops, as well as grassland and lawns, as the maggots live in the soil and feed on plant roots (Kendall 2007).

While maggots of most fly species only eat necrotic tissue in living animals and are thus arguably symbiotic, certain types of maggots are parasitic, such as botfly larvae, which spend part of their life cycle as parasites under the skin of living animals. As with fleas and ticks, parasitic maggots can be a threat to household pets and livestock, especially sheep. Flies reproduce rapidly in the summer months and maggots can come in large numbers, creating a maggot infestation and a high risk of myiasis in sheep and other animals. Myasis is the infection of an animal with maggots. While the myiasis of some species is beneficial in terms of maggot therapy, other species attracted to wounds can be harmful. They may burrow into the skin and cause lesions or move through the body and cause organ damage (Willis 2001).

The larva of various species of the screw worm fly are unusual in that they attack live flesh as well as decaying flesh. The screw worm fly, which is an obligatory parasite of mammals, including humans, sometimes is referred to as a “flesh-eater.” It lays its eggs on the edges of wounds or in mucous membranes of body openings and the larva burrow downwards into the tissue, causing extensive tissue damage and sometimes death. The United States was able to wipe out most populations of this fly by using sterile males to result in eggs that did not hatch (Willis 2001).

Humans are not immune to the feeding habits of maggots and can also contract myiasis. Interaction between humans and maggots usually occurs near garbage cans, dead animals, rotten food, and other breeding grounds for maggots.

A major problem also arises when maggots turn into flies and start the life cycle over again. Within a few generations the number of maggots grows exponentially and becomes a serious problem. Professionals can remove maggots or many over-the-counter bug sprays can be used to deter flies and maggots. Keeping trash in a sealed container and using a garbage disposal or freezing rotting leftovers until rubbish collection day helps prevent infestation.

 

Flesh-fly


Flies of the Diptera family Sarcophagidae (from the Greek sarco- = flesh, phage = eating; the same roots as the word “sarcophagus”) are commonly known as flesh flies. Most flesh flies breed in carrion, dung, or decaying material, but a few species lay their eggs in the open wounds of mammals; hence their common name. Some flesh fly larvae are internal parasites of other insects. These larvae, commonly known as maggots, live for about 5–10 days, before descending into the soil and maturing into adulthood. At that stage, they live for 5–7 days.

Characteristics

Antennae 3-segmented, with an arista; vein Rs 2-branched, frontal suture present, calypters well developed. Medium-sized flies with black and gray longitudinal stripes on the thorax and checkering on the abdomen. Arista commonly plumose on basal half; bare in a few species. Four notopleural bristles (short, long, short, long, from front to rear). Hindmost posthumeral bristle located even with or toward midline from presutural bristle.

The family contains three subfamilies, the Miltogramminae, the Paramacronychiinae and the Sarcophaginae, containing between them 108 genera. Flesh-flies are quite closely related to the family Calliphoridae, which belongs to the same (large) infraorder, the Muscomorpha, and includes species such as the blowfly that have similar habits to the flesh-flies.

Biology

Flesh-fly maggots occasionally eat other larvae although this is usually because the other larvae are smaller and get in the way. Flesh-flies and their larvae are also known to eat decaying vegetable matter and excrement and they may be found around compost piles and pit latrines.

Flesh-flies, being viviparous, frequently give birth to live young on corpses of human and other animals, at any stage of decomposition from recently dead through to bloated or decaying (though the latter is more common).

The life cycle of flesh-fly larvae has been well researched and is very predictable. Different species prefer bodies in different states of decomposition, and the specific preferences and predictable life cycle timings allows forensic entomologists to understand the progress of decomposition and enables the calculation of the time of death by back extrapolation. This is done by determining the oldest larva of each species present, measuring the ambient temperature and from these values, calculating the earliest possible date and time for deposition of larvae. This yields an approximate time and date of death (d.o.d.) This evidence can be used in forensic entomology investigations and may assist in identification of a corpse by matching the calculated time of death with reports of missing persons. Such evidence has also been used to help identify murderers.

Association with disease

Flesh-flies can carry leprosy bacilli and can transmit intestinal pseudomyiasis to people who eat the flesh-fly larvae. Flesh-flies, particularly Wohlfahrtia magnifica, can also cause myiasis in animals, mostly to sheep, and can give them blood poisoning, or asymptomatic leprosy infections.